Polisario urges Spain to be firm on Rabat's "aggression"
The Polisario Front urged former colonial power Spain Tuesday to adopt a tougher stance against Moroccan "aggression," amid simmering tensions over a deadly raid on a Western Sahara squatter camp.
The independence movement "regrets that neither the (ruling Spanish socialist party) PSOE nor its government has adopted a firm and clear position toward Moroccan aggression against the Sahrawi people," the Polisario said in a statement signed by its foreign affairs chief Mohamed Salem ould-Salek.
It urged Madrid to intervene "to protect Sahrawi citizens and ensure that human rights in Western Sahara are respected," demand Rabat end a blockade on the northwest African territory and ensure journalists and observers are allowed free access there.
Spain has expressed its "preoccupation" and requested Rabat to furnish an explanation for a deadly raid by Moroccan police last week on a camp housing thousands of Sahrawis outside the Western Sahara town of Laayoune.
The Polisario and Rabat have offered starkly conflicting casualty figures following the November 8 clashes that took place hours before a new round of peace talks between the two sides near New York.
Morocco has said that 12 people died in clashes between protesters and the police, including 10 members of its security forces.
By contrast, the Polisario said dozens of people died and more than 4,500 were wounded in the violence.
On Monday, Morocco's Interior Minister Taieb Cherkaoui defended the actions of its security forces against what he said were "barbarous acts."
For its part, the Polisario said it would withdraw from the peace talks if the UN Security Council does not investigate the raid.
Meanwhile, a Spanish human rights group said it would file a court case against Rabat over the raid and the death of a Spanish national of Western Saharan descent.
Spain's foreign ministry has asked that Morocco explain the death.
© 2010 AFP